Archives Card

The Archives Card is the planned new digital reader ticket scheme for archiveusers across the UK and Ireland

The Archives Card is an archive reader ticket scheme for the U.K. and Ireland.  Administered by the Archives and Records Association, it is open to all archive services - large, small, local authority, university, business or private.

  • The new Archives Card will be launched in Autumn 2019.
  • For latest information click here.

Information for Future Users

Applications for the new Archives Card will be via a single online registration form on the ARA website, to which participating record offices provide links on their websites along with information about how the scheme works.  When an applicant submits a completed form, the new system will create an initial record that will be visible to the nearest, most convenient or ‘home’ service of the applicant. For data protection reasons, the ARA will destroy this initial record if the applicant does not complete his/her registration within one month.

Applicants will then need to complete their registration in person at a participating office, with the necessary identity (ID) verification process (details on this will follow later). The verification standards follow those of the London Metropolitan Archives, the benchmark for the sector. The relevant details will be entered on the database by the participating record office staff member. At this point, the application will be complete, and the card issued, with a unique reference number (and is activated on the system by the staff member putting the card under the barcode reader to read the number and complete the record).

With the permission of card holders, the ARA will hold and maintain registration personal data in one central database and assume the role of data controller for the scheme - the ARA will update its privacy notice to cover this role in due course. The personal data on the database will include a photograph of the card holder, which can either be submitted by the user when starting the registration or else taken (digitally) by the staff member at a participating office on completion of the registration. The participating archive services and offices will then issue the cards on completion of identity checks.

For user security, there will be no personally-identifiable information held on the card itself, beyond a signature strip to show receipt and ownership. Any service that the card holder visits will be able to check the photographic identity of the card holder through access to the central database. Other than the signature strip, the Archives Card will only display the scheme’s branding (details to be announced in due course) and the unique user barcode.


I am an Archives Service.  Why should I join?

The Archives Card offers many benefits, including features that will help you meet the requirements of Archive Service Accreditation.

Enhanced customer experience

  • Customers will need only one card to access all participating archive services and will be able to register online whenever and wherever they want.

High security

  • The Archives Card will use a high standard of ID verification including a photograph of the user on the system
  • If there are concerns about thefts, all services visited by that customer can be traced and notified.

A fully electronic system

  • A web-based database means no local administration, filing and storage of registration forms or local GDPR issues.
  • Staff will have easy access to the national database to register and amend customer details.

Professional appearance

  • A high spec user front end will make for an easy, professional looking online registration process.
  • The card will be plastic credit card style with barcode and signature strip.
  • Cards issued in Wales, Scotland and Ireland will include bilingual branding that celebrates their national identity.

Customer insight and marketing

  • A customisable interactive dashboard for your service that tracks usage, customer and equalities information, providing invaluable data for audience insight and development.
  • Users will be able to sign up for marketing, enabling you to easily communicate directly with your customers.

How does it work?

  • The Archives Card uses tried and tested software developed by ASi, who will store and process the data on behalf of the ARA in a U.K. data centre.
  • The system is web-based, so archive services do not have to install proprietary software.
  • A simple web link on an archive service’s website will take customers to the online registration form.  If customers aren’t able to use a computer, staff will be able to enter the information directly into the database for them.
  • Customers can upload a photo themselves, or the archive service can use a web cam to add a photo to the record.
  • Whenever the customer uses an archive service, the barcode on their card is registered on the system. The point at which a barcode is registered, and how this is done, is up to each archive service.

What equipment do I need?

  • At the most basic level, all you need is a staff computer with internet access and a webcam.
  • If you would like customers to be able to register themselves onsite, you will also need a public computer with internet access.
  • A barcode reader will make it easy to read the card. If you don’t have a barcode reader, you can simply enter the barcode manually.

What will it cost me?

Participating archives will pay an annual fee that includes the cost of cards.  There is also a one-off joining fee to cover set up costs.  Fees are tiered according to the size of the archive service, in line with Archive Service Accreditation scalability guidance:

  • Type 1 (small services such as smaller borough archives / local studies libraries)
  • Type 2 (larger single site services such as county and city archive services)
  • Type 3 (services with one or more satellite branches)

The scheme is not profit making and costs are shared across participants - the more participants there are, the lower the fees will be.  The maximum fees are expected to be in the region of:

Annual Fee Joining Fee
Type 1 £300 £600
Type 2 £450 £900
Type 3 £600 £1200

How do I join?

To register your interest, contact John Chambers at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. You can download and complete the application form here